Former UN Chief Executive Kandeh Yumkella calls for more to be done to achieve SDG 7

Anthony Abdul Karim Kamara, Jnr: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 September 2018:

The Climate Investment Funds (CIFs) Summit has ended in Kigali, with the clarion call for the international community to do more to ensure that Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7) – “Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, becomes a reality for the billion people around the globe without access to modern energy services.

“A silent Tsunami is killing about 4 million people a year, particularly women and children from diseases including pneumonia, heart disease, stroke, lung disease and cancer,” said Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, former UN Under-Secretary-General. “The world has failed to deliver on clean cooking energy.”

According to recent Energy Progress Report, clean cooking continues to lag the furthest behind all of the four energy targets, due to low consumer awareness, financing gaps, slow technological progress, and lack of infrastructure for fuel production and distribution.

If the current trajectory continues, 2.3 billion people will continue to use traditional cooking methods in 2030.

As founding CEO and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, and lead champion for energy issues in the United Nations, Yumkella played a leading role in underscoring the importance of energy access for economic empowerment and for women and children’s health.

“We must ensure that Energy Access at Tier 1 and Tier 2 be declared a human right. No one should be without access to three bulbs and a phone charger by 2030,” says Yumkella.

Speaking to Representatives of governments of the SREP participating countries and Renewable Energy experts from Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), private sector and civil society who had gathered at the Kigali Serena Hotel auditorium, Yumkella further stated that considering “the rate at which most of Sub-Saharan Africa is going, it is clear the continent will not achieve SDG-7 in the next 12 years. “

Germaine Kamayirese, Minister of State of Energy, Water and Sanitation, emphasized the commitment of the Government of Rwanda to prioritize and continuously facilitate investments in the energy sector to fulfill its ambitious target of achieving universal energy access by 2024.

“This target is expected to be realized through the use of both on grid (52%) and off grid (48%) electrification approaches,” said Minister Kamayirese; adding that, “the predominant off-grid solutions used in Rwanda are mainly through solar home systems and mini grids. Due to the level of service that these systems provide, the uptake for these solutions has improved drastically from 1% in 2016 to 11% by end June 2018.”

Yumkella told the summit that: “The Rwandan Government has adopted an ambitious, deliberate, and integrated approach that will enable them to achieve universal access ahead of many African economies. I commend the country’s leadership for the vision and coherent approach.”

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) has already made $50 million available in SREP support to Rwanda as part of its Vision 2020. The SREP financing is helping to overcome financial, institutional, and technical barriers to establish sustainable off-grid energy solutions, such as stand-alone solar PV solutions and mini-grids using renewable energy sources to improve the livelihoods of Rwandan communities and to achieve the SDG 7 target before 2030.

“The CIF-supported Renewable Energy Fund project, currently in operation, is expected to provide financing to households that need access to electricity,” said Minister Kamayirese, who also disclosed that CIF also provided support for the Multi-tier Framework (MTF) survey, conducted in 2016 and the results published this year.

“This new framework,” according to the minister “has resulted in the improvement of how data on access to electricity and access to modern energy cooking solution is collected and reported.”

Dr. Zhihong Zhang, head of SREP and Clean Technology Fund (CTF), reminded participants that 2018 marks the 10th anniversary of the Climate Investments Funds. “Ten years ago, renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, geothermal, were still considered a novelty: expensive, unreliable, inaccessible. SREP was established to pilot and demonstrate the social, economic, and environmental viability of renewable energy in the context of low-income countries, to create favorable enabling environment and market conditions, and to test viable business and delivery models.”

The SREP program has grown from six pilot countries to 27 countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America. “We have invested almost USD 600 million of SREP funds so far, and for every SREP dollar, we’re leveraging more than 5 dollars from other sources. These investments will benefit more than 17 million people with improved access to clean, affordable and modern energy services,” Zhang said. (Photo above: Dr Kandeh Yumkella – right, with Minister Germaine Kamayirese, and Dr. Zhihong Zhang).

On the importance of the summit, Frederick Appiah, Chief Programme Officer for Renewable Energy said “Ghana is fortunate to be a beneficiary of Climate Investment Fund (CIF)’s Scaling up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) funding facility for three key priority projects; Mini-Grid and Stand-alone Solar PV, Net-Metering with Storage and Utility-scale Solar/Wind Power.

“We share similar challenges with other beneficiary countries and such meetings afford us the opportunity to learn from others experiences on the preparatory and implementation stages. The sessions on Multi-Tier Framework, Monitoring & Reporting Toolkit, Gender mainstreaming Framework and Transformational Change in the CIF context are also very useful for us,” affirmed Appiah.

“I have found this meeting of SREP pilot countries incredibly valuable,” stated Simon Ratcliffe, Energy and Cities Advisor with the Department for International Development (DFID).

“It has been useful to hear from recipients how they are taking their programmes forward and tackling the challenges and obstacles in their way. I have found it useful hearing from implementing partners about how SREP has opened up dialogues with countries that they would not have been able to have in other circumstances. I have enjoyed hearing how SREP has been a catalyst for regulatory reform, the inclusion of women and the participation of the private sector, noted Ratcliffe.

The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the United Kingdom’s work to end extreme poverty and helping the world’s most vulnerable including preventing the dangerous effect of climate change. DFID has also played a great role in the provision of renewable energy for rural populations living beyond the reach of national grids.

Like many participants, Ratcliffe “looks forward to seeing all the projects in the pipeline up and running and delivering the expected results for changing people’s lives for the better.”

A Member of Sierra Leone’s Parliament, Hon. Yumkella, was speaking in his capacity as keynote guest speaker at the CIF Kigali Summit. He chairs the Parliamentary Select Committee for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and is a member of the Energy Committee.

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